Even as Georgia pulled away for a convincing 37-10 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks, you could tell that Georgia head coach Kirby was not happy with how his team played to open the season.
“We didn’t execute well early, and when we did, we had penalties,” Smart said. “I thought the defense played with a lot of heart, but we’re not going to beat many football teams playing like we played.”
While Smart liked what he saw out of Georgia’s defense, it was the offensive performance that raised many eyebrows.
The Bulldogs had just 5 points into the third quarter and struggled mightily in the opening 30 minutes. D’Wan Mathis got the start for the Bulldogs but it was very much a performance he’d like to forget, as he completed 6 of his 14 pass attempts in the first half for 37 yards. He also threw an interception as well.
Smart made it clear that the offensive struggles weren’t all just on Mathis. The offensive line struggled to open holes and Georgia was setback by a number of penalties.
“It starts with the penalties, it starts with guys missing assignments and guys missing signals,” Smart said. “When you turn the ball over, when you hold people and you line up in the backfield, you’re not going to have a lot of success.”
If you took a look at social media, you could tell that many were not happy with the direction of the offense.
Give a kid 1Q to play in a new offense then gets pulled. I like Stetson Bennett but I feel bad for Mathis… gonna be tough for him to get confidence back going forward
— Aaron Murray (@aaronmurray11) September 26, 2020
How far is Georgia from being on Florida’s level? Pretty darn far right now.
— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) September 27, 2020
— Beat Arky #GoDawgs (@1DawgGA) September 26, 2020
Georgia QB with 0.0 situational awareness
— Big Cat (@BarstoolBigCat) September 26, 2020
It’s great to be a Georgia Bulldog 🙁 pic.twitter.com/np341nuqli
— Celia Palermo (@CeliaPalermo) September 26, 2020
We go live to dad pic.twitter.com/XBZ9gaIO9Z
— Amanda Mull (@amandamull) September 26, 2020
I have now reached the point where I am rooting for a defensive TD the rest of the game as our only hope.
— Charles N Davis (@GradyDeanUGA) September 26, 2020
Kirby texting Jamie Newman rn pic.twitter.com/OxFVJB9QJj
— Alyssa Purser (@AlyssaPurser) September 26, 2020
Things did turn around for Georgia after Stetson Bennett entered the game for the Bulldogs. He replaced Mathis in the second quarter and did engineer a field goal just before halftime to give Georgia some momentum heading into the second half.
Bennett played well in the third quarter as he got the Georgia offense on track. He threw 2 touchdowns passes in the quarter to help Georgia re-take a commanding leading and ultimately put the Razorbacks away. He finished the game completing 20 of his 29 passes for 211 yards, and also used his legs to convert a two-point conversion.
STETSON BENNETT IS THE TRUTH!!
— Barstool UGA (@ugabarstool) September 26, 2020
Feels like Stetson Bennett took this job today. Could be wrong. But he’s playing great.
— Mike Conti (@MikeConti929) September 26, 2020
UGA putting Stetson Bennett IV in the game at Arkansas: pic.twitter.com/cviCg7NYbv
— C a l l (@comrade_call) September 26, 2020
Stetson Bennett 🤝…You make me so proud bro pic.twitter.com/jm7tloXM1J
— AXactly (@DawgAXactly) September 26, 2020
stetson bennett iv slander will not be tolerated on this timeline
— jake jacob (@jake_jacob10) September 26, 2020
Stetson Bennett is proof that a 5’11 QB that has IT is not much different than a 6’4 QB that has it.
IT is IT. @StetsonIV
— QB Country (@QBCountry) September 26, 2020
June 2018 …. “The dream is to play,” Stetson Bennett IV said. “It was cool being at Georgia. I loved sharing those moments at Georgia last year but the dream is to play. It just wasn’t the same growing up as a boy who wanted to play at Georgia if you are not out there.” pic.twitter.com/iVX1XL9JXE
— Jeff Sentell (@jeffsentell) September 26, 2020
Stetson Bennett has restored order for Georgia YOU READ THAT RIGHT.
— Josh Pate 🎙🏈 (@LateKickJosh) September 26, 2020
Stetson Bennett…hero of the day…who would of thunk that!
— PeachsInGa (@PeachsInGa) September 26, 2020
Bennett spoke with reporters after the game about his performance. And while few thought he’d get reps as QB1, he never doubted his abilities or his chance.
“Definitely coming in (to start) the second half was easier than coming in straight off (the bench),” Bennett said. “Just feeling more comfortable with the guys and going in there and knowing what we were about to do. After that two-minute drill, that really boosted the confidence in the second half.”
The Georgia football defense put in another strong showing on Saturday and that did get some positive attention on social media. The Bulldogs forced three Arkansas turnovers, had 2.0 sacks and limited the Razorbacks to just 280 total yards and 10 points.
The group, which many have dubbed as the best in the country, lived up to the hype in the opening 60 minutes of the 2020 season.
The debut of Georgia’s new offense was a train wreck and yet they won by 27 on the road in the SEC.
That should tell you how good the defense and special teams played on Saturday. https://t.co/7edGgqxus6
— SEC Mike (@MichaelWBratton) September 27, 2020
— Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) September 26, 2020
— Justin Lawniczak (@justinlawniczak) September 26, 2020
Well that’s a wrap….Georgia with a 32 point second half, final score 37-10. Bulldog defense is elite, one of the best in the nation, might be the best Hogs see all year. Plenty of room for improvement for Arkansas but some positive signs in that first half.
— DAVID BAZZEL (@DavidBazzel) September 26, 2020
Nothing wrong with Georgia’s defense! They still are some junkyard Dawgs! #Bullies
— Marvin L. James II (@sportsguymarv) September 26, 2020
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) September 26, 2020
— GEORGIA HEROES (@GeorgiaHeroes) September 26, 2020
“We’re gonna get it. We have a lot of guys dedicated to winning,” Georgia safety Richard LeCounte said. “Everything that we need to put the defense we’re down for. I’ve never seen a group of guys that is so relentless and ready to win. That’s a great formula for a great defense and also a great team.”
The Bulldogs face a stout test next Saturday as they welcome the No. 8 ranked Auburn Tigers into Sanford Stadium. The game will certainly have a lot of eyeballs, as it will be the first top-10 match-up of the college football season. ESPN’s College GameDay will be in town to preview and discuss the big game. The contest is set for a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff on ESPN.
📍 A T H E N S
We’re headed to the Classic City for Auburn-Georgia! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/Em5wb7Elhi
— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) September 27, 2020
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